Another costly victory: Finley injured as Packers beat Browns 31-13 and move into first place
By Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider.com senior editor
~Another win, another one of Aaron Rodgers weapons taken away.
Rodgers passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, Eddie Lacy ran for another score, and the Packers grinded out a 31-13 win Sunday over the Cleveland Browns.
Lacy finished with 82 yards rushing, while tight end Jermichael Finley had a 10-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter before leaving with a frightening neck injury.
Green Bay (4-2) won its third straight and took over first place in the NFC North as both the Lions and Bears lost close games Sunday.
Rodgers finished 25 for 36 despite being without two of his top targets in injured receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb..
Then Finley left strapped to a stretcher with about 10 minutes to go with a neck injury after a dirty late hit by Brown safety Tashaun Gipson on a 10-yard gain. He was carted off the field, but fortunately, the team later said Finley had movement and feeling in his extremities.
The defense took care of the rest against a struggling Weeden, who finished 17 for 42 for 149 yards. The Browns’ Jordan Cameron caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11 with 6:09 left.
Cleveland thought it caught a huge break after recovering an onside kick when Packer wide receiver Myles White simply couldn’t catch the kick that was right to him, only for the play to be erased by an offside penalty.
The Packers got the ball back, and Rodgers found Jarrett Boykin for a 20-yard touchdown and a 31-13. Boykin, making his first start at receiver with Jones and Cobb out, finished with eight catches for 103 yards.
The Browns did have two nice fourth-quarter kickoff returns that helped set up drives into Green Bay territory, including an 80-yarder by Travis Benjamin that led to Cameron’s score. The Packers special teams units, both coverage and return, are simply atrocious under Shawn Slocum.
Green Bay penalties kept the Browns in the game well into the second half. Tramon Williams’ sack of Weeden on a corner blitz was negated by 15-yard face mask penalty on A.J. Hawk. But Cleveland settled for a 44-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff to make it 17-6.
Rodgers connected with Finley for a 7-0 lead after the athletic, 6-foot-5 tight end spun around one defender, then caromed off two others like a pinball into the end zone.
A Lambeau leap was next, of course.
Lacy followed on the next drive with a 1-yard score to give Green Bay a two-touchdown lead.
It looked as if the Packers were pulling away for an easy victory, especially with Cleveland receivers dropping passes in the first half on a dreary evening.
The Browns couldn’t muster anything on the ground, either, against the Packers’ tough run defense. Willis McGahee had 11 carries for 39 yards.
The Packers defense has done s marvelous job against running backs this season. Last week, Ray Rice of the Ravens was completely shut down. Reggie Bush and Frank Gore were also held to way below their season averages.
Next up, however, will be Adrian Peterson. Last year, you’ll remember, Peterson carved the Packers up in both regular season games. Minnesota finishes week seven up tomorrow night at the winless Giants.